Statement in response to Department of Health and Social Care fully-funding roll-out of PrEP
Funding for routine commissioning a milestone moment in the battle for PrEP
The Department of Health and Social Care has today announced £16 million will be made available to local authorities in England for the routine commissioning of PrEP, the HIV prevention drug, in 2020.
Until now the drug was only available through the NHS funded IMPACT Trial, established to test how to deliver PrEP (but not whether the drug works, which is already proven).
Deborah Gold, Chief Executive of NAT (National AIDS Trust), said:
“We’re delighted PrEP will finally be freely available to all those who need it in England, with no cap on spaces.
“This is a milestone moment in a five-year battle National AIDS Trust, along with other organisations and countless activists, has undertaken. This included our 2016 court action against NHS England for failing to consider PrEP and HIV prevention as part of their obligations.
“It’s been clear for a long time that the trial could not meet demand for PrEP, with spaces at some clinics filling up fast. Routine commissioning is needed urgently to increase access and provide much needed certainty to those on the trial.
“While we’re relieved at this announcement, making the medication available is not the end goal – it’s just one part of the struggle. The trial has successfully engaged with gay and bisexual men. However, very few other groups at risk – including women and non-binary people – are accessing places. We risk embedding inequalities from the outset if we fail to grasp this. We urgently need to see investment in engagement and community-based services to ensure no one is left behind.”
It has been confirmed that this money will be on top of the local authority public health grant, through which sexual health services are funded. Local authorities are still awaiting details of their public health allocations for the coming financial year.
Deborah Gold added:
“With less than a month to go before the new financial year and in the context of enormous pressure on our health and social care system right now, it’s extremely difficult for councils to plan their sexual health services.
“We are very concerned that access to PrEP will be patchy, with some communities struggling to get it at first. Those clinics already involved in the PrEP IMPACT Trial will be more prepared than others to deliver a comprehensive PrEP programme.
“We will be working with colleagues across the system to support effective planning to reduce access inequality.
“This announcement only covers a one-year period (2020-21) and work must begin immediately to make sure we don’t face further uncertainty in a year’s time. We cannot rest on our laurels, there’s a long way to go until we have a sustainable funding solution that not only covers the cost of PrEP but ensures it reaches every single person who needs it.”
For more details please contact Anabel Unity Sale on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07384 390 624.
Notes to editors
NAT (National AIDS Trust) is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to transforming society’s response to HIV. We provide fresh thinking, expertise and practical resources. We champion the rights of people living with HIV and campaign for change.
Shaping attitudes. Challenging injustice. Changing lives.